News: BMW design chief speaks

By Guy Bird for Auto Express, Nov 2009

Laurenz Schaffer on his new vision for BMW DesignWorks

There’s a new man in charge of the studio behind some of the BMW’s greatest designs and Auto Express got to meet him on the first day in his new job.

On December 1, Laurenz Schaffer became president of BMW Designworks USA – the firm’s future-facing car and product design studio – that over the years has been responsible for such revolutionary car concepts as the 2008 GINA and 2001 X-Coupe, both generations of the acclaimed production X5 SUV plus everything from yachts to coffee machines for household names like Siemens, Nokia and Coca-Cola.

The role is considered particularly important within BMW for its ability to steer the company’s future design direction by tapping into influences from inside and outside the car industry. Current overall head of BMW Group design Adrian van Hooydonk held the exact same job between 2001-2004.

Key initiatives on 42-year old new president Schaffer’s wish list include establishing a more international presence for Designworks – which already has studios in California, Munich and Singapore – to understand what different global customers might want – plus striving to work even further in advance, as he told Auto Express: “It’s super important to project out over two to three product lifecycles – 10-15 years in advance – so we can consider all the design impacts of that process. We want to design the future.”

Schaffer is an 11-year veteran of Designworks – including most recently heading up Designworks’ Munich studio – and succeeds Verena Kloos who now becomes responsible for design strategy and advance development in Munich.


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